Levy would help to pay for upkeep of park trail

A park board member said the levy would cost the owner of a $50,000 home about $6 a year.
SALEM -- For too long, the Columbiana County Park District has been operating on a shoestring budget, a park board member says.
The district wants to change that by passing a 0.2-mill levy that would help pay for general park operations as well as for improvements, maintenance and security for the district's 12-mile-long hike-bike trail.
"We have no means, no money" to speak of to run the Greenway Trail and other park operations, said Charlie Harper, a park board member.
"We've been operating on a shoestring budget for too long," Harper added.
If passed, the 5-year, additional levy would produce about $200,000 in revenue annually. It would cost the owner of a $50,000 home about $6 annually, Harper said.
Right now, the park district's budget is about $12,000. It also relies on donations, grants and volunteer labor.
Expansion plans: The levy would allow the park district to pursue plans to expand the paved Greenway Trail, which follows an abandoned railroad right-of-way from Lisbon to just south of Leetonia.
A $1.2 million state grant paid for creation of the Greenway, which opened in summer 2000.
If the levy passes, the park district would like to use money from it to expand the pathway northward into Washingtonville, Harper said.
Also being considered is creation of a spur off the Greenway that would stretch between Leetonia and Columbiana.
Security: The park district also wants to use levy money to create a security patrol for the Greenway, much of which passes through remote rural areas.
The trail has been troubled by vandalism, and two assaults occurred on its southern end earlier this year.
Another use for the levy money would be trail maintenance.
Harper noted that some pavement work will need to be done on the trail, which must also be kept clear of debris and the trees that occasionally fall across the path.
Besides the Greenway, the park district also has other facilities the levy would help in maintaining, including Scenic Vista Park in Center Township, west of Lisbon.